At the current immigration and birth rate, 5.5 million new numbers are issued each year. Contrary to popular belief, the first three numbers are known as the area numbers. In fact, before 1972, when most of us were given our SS#, it reflected the state is which you applied for your number. California is number 5. Since 1973, SS#’s are issued by the central office, with the first three digits determined by the zip code of the mailing address shown on the application for a SS#. California cards start with 545 through 573. Any number starting with 000 is not a valid number. Numbers 700 through 728 were originally issued to railroad employees up until July 1, 1963.
Many paranoid Americans believe that the middle two digits are a “race” indicator. NOT true! It was originally used for clerical purposes to assist in organizing filing cabinets in the Social Security office. The last four digits are issued sequentially within a group from 0001 to
Curiously, the most often claimed number has a unique origin. A wallet manufacturer, E. H. Ferree, reprinted his secretary’s number onto a sample card that was inserted into one of its products. More than 40,000 claimed it as their own. The number was 078-05-1120 and belonged to Hilda Whitcher. Eventually, SS issued her a new number. But the FBI wanted to know why so many people had her number!
Ida May Fuller
It is possible to object to your assigned SS# on religious beliefs or cultural traditions. But the applicant must prove these concerns. And fear not, your number will never be used again after your ultimate demise. Plus, SS has enough numbers to issue well into 2030, even though they will either have no money or cease to exist.
I hope I have not thoroughly depressed you. Personally, I never thought I would see the day when I could collect. And now, on the cusp of qualifying for Medicare, I can only thank legislators, King and Anderson for coming up with this abstruse and convoluted Medicare retirement program.
The original Social Security bill was passed in 1935. It was known then as OASDI, or the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program. It has since been amended to include several social welfare and social insurance programs, including Medicare and Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). It is funded through dedicated payroll taxes called FICA or Federal Insurance Contributions Act.
By dollars alone, the U.S. Social Security program is the largest in the world. It is also the largest expenditure in the Federal budget, with 20.8% going to SS, and 20.5% for defense, and 20.1% for Medicare and Medicare. It is 7% of our gross domestic product. It is estimated that it keeps 40% of all Americans over 65, out of poverty. Its headquarters are in Woodlawn, MD, just west of Baltimore.
Assets in the trust fund are $2.6 trillion as of 2010. By 2023, interest and income earned on assets will no longer cover expenditures of SS based solely on the demographic shift of our population. By 2035, the ratio of retirees to workers will hit a staggering 37%. The trust fund would be exhausted by 2036 without corrective legislation.
The very first SS payment went to an Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont on January 31,1940. In the three years of 1937, 1938, and 1939, she paid a total of $24.75 into SS. Her first check was for $22.54. She lived to be a hundred, and collected almost $23,000.
The Social Security Administration admits that the Social Security Act does not require a person to have a Social Security number to live or work in the United States. However, the Internal Revenue Service and the military (which prints it on dog tags) use the SS# as an identifier. It is impossible to file a tax return or receive a refund without an SS#.
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935. As of mid 2009, almost 17% of the population was receiving SS benefits. As of 2010, SS pays an average of just under $14,000 annually to retirees. It jumps to almost $23,000 for retirees who are married. Currently SS is paying out $48 billion more than it collects in taxes. In 2012 to 2014, SS will collect $10 billion more than it pays out as benefits. From 2015, SS will pay out more than it collects every year into the foreseeable future, unless dramatic changes are enacted. The Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2037. By then, payroll taxes may hit a staggering 28%.
For those of you planning to collect after 2037, I wish you the best of luck and good fortune.